KoBold Metals to invest $150 million for copper project in Zambia
KoBold Metals will invest $150 million to develop a copper mine in Zambia. The company backed by Breakthrough Energy Venture, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify battery metal deposits.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures is a climate and technology fund founded by Microsoft's Bill Gates and backed by Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Virgin's Richard Branson.
The investment will go toward the development of the Mingomba project in the Central African Copperbelt. In a release, KoBold said the Central African Copperbelt is the largest copper and cobalt resource in the world.
KoBold will be part of a joint venture with Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and Zambia's state-backed miner ZCCM-IH, with the potential to become “one of the world's top-tier mines,” KoBold said.
Mingomba contains 247 Mt (272 million st) of ore with an average grade of 3.64 percent copper, according to KoBold.
The deal comes as the United States is seeking to reduce its dependence on China by developing domestic electric vehicle battery manufacturing, and looks to Africa as an alternative source of battery metals.
Reuters reported that Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema wants to boost the country's copper production to 3 Mt/a (3.3 million stpy) a year by 2032, from around 850 kt (937,000 st) currently. As Africa's second-largest producer of copper, Zambia is highly dependent on mining.
“Our message to the world is that Zambia is here, and is open for business,” Hichilema said as he announced the deal at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C..
“This investment today is not about KoBold, it’s not about ZCCM, it's not about Zambia, it’s about all of these, and the rest of the world, as we grapple with climate change.”
The deal, which will grant KoBold a majority stake in Mingomba, is set to close in the first quarter of 2023.